NASA closing in on naming new fleet

by Chris Bergin

Sources have revealed the latest list of the names NASA has given to its new fleet, with a Greek goddess, a Roman mythological god, and a near-by star winning through as the identities of the new ships that will send America back to the moon and on to Mars.

In the next decade, Altair, Artemis and Ares (I and V) could well become space community household names, as NASA returns to exploration past our own orbit.

A huge step up from NASA administrator Mike Griffin’s ‘Apollo on steroids’ tag, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) has been christened ‘Altair’ – named after a variable double star in the constellation Aquila.

Homage is made to the Apollo vehicles, with Altair rooting from the Arabic phrase ‘the flying Eagle.’

Greek mythology comes into play for the LSAM (Lunar Surface Ascent Module), which receives the name ‘Artemis’ – the virgin goddess of the hunt and the moon. Fittingly, Artemis is also the twin sister of Apollo.

Artemis is also a small lunar impact crater located in the Mare Imbrium region of the moon.

The Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) gains the name ‘Ares I’ – as NASA’s name choices move into a historical parallel with the previous launch vehicles to take astronauts to the moon.

In Greek mythology, Ares is the Greek god of war; son of Zeus and Hera, but more relevantly, Ares is identified with Mars in Roman mythology. ARES is also the name of a Mars Scout mission, proposed by NASA Langley Flight Research Center.

The relation to the launch vehicles of old became more apparent when the naming of the CaLV (Cargo Launch Vehicle) was revealed to be ‘Ares V’ – with sources claiming this was a direct result of wishing to have an identification with the Saturn V.

Strangely, if ‘Ares I’ was named as such because of its single SRB booster, then the ‘Ares V’ name is related to the CaLV’s five SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines).

Other – more assuming reasoning for the names – could be from a NASA HQ that is full of Stargate SG-1 fans, as Artemis is also the name of a ‘Goa’uld’ in the television series, and ‘Artemis II’ was the lunar lander that was attacked by General Zod and his sidekick villains in the Superman movie.

Some of the names have already been used internally by NASA as titles for working projects. The above notional names are from new information that shows NASA is closing in on deciding the names for the new fleet.

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